None of that third-person nonsense here. I grew up in an unlovely satellite town of London where I learned the art of escapism through self-publishing. Calling my fanzine Slapper: The Groupie’s Guide to Gropable Bands was supposed to be an ingenious marketing gimmick (I can certainly help you develop your own ingenious marketing gimmick, but I wouldn’t use that one if I were you), but got me splashed across national papers and led to my first column – for the brand new (soon to be iconic) Dazed & Confused magazine in Soho – followed by a column in Tank Girl magazine and a raft of other work as the cheeky young upstart.
In my early twenties I worked as a manuscript editor with a crime fiction publisher, The Do-Not Press, while continuing to freelance. Random points of my writing career include a weekly techie column for the NME (want to sound like Franz Ferdinand on ‘Take Me Out’? No problem); writing porn star Jenna Jameson’s column while working at Paul Raymond’s Soho empire; and moonlighting with record companies to create album bios for pop stars who didn’t seem to have heard their own albums. I’ve interviewed everyone from Jack White to Joan Jett; not forgetting the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante, in a pitch-black hotel room at the Chateau Marmot, and someone I had better not name who showed me gynaecological magazines on a tour bus while bidding me stroke his fur coat.
Upon defecting to Australia in 2006, I edited national music magazine Jmag (for the radio station Triple J) for four years, before taking the helm of Time Out Melbourne, sister mag to Time Out London. I now freelance for titles including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Guardian, the ABC, The Saturday Paper and The Monthly. I have taught journalism to students at Monash University, Collarts and Writers Victoria and mentored hundreds of interns at Time Out (I promise they weren’t being exploited; it was part of their course requirements). Now I run my own workshops.
In June 2017, Black Inc published my Walkley-nominated research-memoir hybrid, Woman of Substances, which investigates the female experience of drugs and alcohol. It was published in the UK and US by Head of Zeus in 2018. Woman of Substances became recommended reading material on several university reading lists and is considered to be a valuable resource by drug and alcohol professionals. After its publication I was appointed as a board director of SMART Recovery Australia, a consultant for the University of NSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), and an ambassador for BrainPark, a project of Monash University’s Brain and Mental Health Laboratory.
My fourth book, Everything Harder Than Everyone Else: Why Some of Us Push Our Bodies to Extremes, was published in Australia by Black Inc in 2021, in the UK by Manchester University Press and in the US by Apollo. It’s become a global hit with podcasts devoted to endurance and sport, and the audiobook version has excerpts from my interviews with the people profiled in each chapter.
As well as appearing at most of Australia’s major writers festivals over the years, I’ve been a regular keynote speaker at drug and alcohol conferences and have appeared on major radio shows such as Conversations with Richard Fidler, Mornings with Jon Faine, Life Matters and Big Ideas. I’m a regular at writing festivals, whether yakking on about myself, hosting panels or interviewing other writers.
If you’d like to follow me on social media, I primarily use Instagram for my updates, news about events and readings from my books. I also have a closed Facebook group for writers who have worked with me in the past or might like to work with me in the future, so request to join if you’re interested. See you there!